Seattle’s Fall Comfort Foods

There are certain things that make us nostalgic of being at home. Snuggling in a warm blanket by the fireplace, pumpkins by the front door, hot chocolate in a mug, and the smell of baked apple pie are certainly memory triggers for moments of “a simple life.” October seems like a great time to go through the list to give us some warmth as the chill of fall start to set in. Thoughts of the upcoming holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, elevate the feeling even more.

Unfortunately, fireplaces are not standard in most of ourvacation homes (fireplaces on the TV or computer monitor do not count!). The upside, wrapping yourself with a blanket is easy enough to accomplish. Check!
Grabbing a couple of small pumpkins while at the Pike Place Market is painless. Gourds are a great way to add texture and visual interest when they are next to the pumpkins. Et voila! The dining table in your home just became more welcoming.

• Who Who doesn’t like chocolate?

For a tasty HOT CHOCOLATE, warm up about 2 cups of milk in a saucepan, add 5 oz. of high quality bittersweet chocolate (finely chopped)–I prefer the Fran’s baking bars–and whisk until melted. A tablespoon or two of sugar is always optional. More milk can be added to this mixture if the thickness is not to your liking. Pour in mugs. For something special, top with a small pinch of sea salt or cinnamon.

For those of you who are willing to have a longer moment, how about an easy apple dessert? Washington is known for our apples, so this is a fall treat that is a local favorite.

Store bought pie crust but don’t be afraid to make your own
2-3 medium apples, peeled (optional), cored, and cut in uniform cubes or slices to bake evenly
(Honeycrisp, Gala, Jonagold, Fuji, Braeburn, Mutsu or a mix. Red Delicious gets too soft).  The great vendors at the Pike Place Market can assist you in selecting a fantastic local baking apple.
1 tablespoon vanilla (or 1 teaspoon cardamom)
2 tablespoons of powdered sugar (can substitute with granulated or brown sugar)
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven according to box directions.
Line or spray the backside of a sheet pan.
Lay pie crust on pan; remove from tin pan if it came in one.
Patch up any holes.
Toss apples with vanilla and sugar in a bowl, let sit for about 5 minutes.
Spoon apples in the middle of the crust.
Distribute filling evenly leaving a 2-inch edge. Fold the edges over the filling.
Add about 1/3 cup of the liquid from the apples.
Sprinkle crust edge with sugar crystals (can substitute with granulated sugar).
Bake until golden brown.

This tart tastes best when served warm or room temperature. It also makes an excellent “breakfast pastry”
for the next morning.

Now that you have made the apple tart, you have now set your minds in motion to make homey desserts for all the upcoming holidays; dark chocolate bundt cake for Halloween, pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, maybe sugar cookies or even a log cake for Christmas. Perhaps something as simple as adding a peppermint stick to a mug of hot chocolate to ring in the new year.

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